Columnist turns work into book on Sweet Home history

Scott Swanson

Of The New Era

When she started writing a monthly column on local history for The New Era’s monthly 55 Plus section, Mona Waibel didn’t expect to go any further than that.

But then folks started asking her to put her columns together in a book that they could give to family and friends.

“I hesitated at first because I knew it would be a lot of work,” she said, adding that she wasn’t sure she was up to it at 78. “But then I thought, ‘Sure, I could do it.'”

So, last summer, Waibel started collecting the columns she’s been writing since February of 2006 and more photos to produce a 200-plus-page book entitled “Sweet Home’s Good Old Days.”

Counting the time she spent writing the columns, the project took her a year, she said.

“I would spend 12 to 18 hours a day on it,” Waibel said. “My husband said ‘This is not like you – you’re not out doing other things.’ I still managed to get to my clubs and things but I didn’t volunteer for any committees.”

She finished in March and the book went to Maverick Publications in Bend. Waibel said the firm was the only one that was willing to handle the more than 150 photographs in the volume. Many of those were contributed by family and friends of Waibel, whose family has lived in Sweet Home for seven generations and who was born and raised here.

Waibel has served on the City Council and as Chamber of Commerce manager. She also directed the Sweet Home branch of Linn-Benton Community College for 18 years.

She and her husband Bob have traveled the world extensively, during Bob’s years as a professional logging competitor and performer.

The book covers the early days of Sweet Home, focusing on such events as the Crawfordsville Roundup, Frontier Days, early logging and life among the area’s pioneers and succeeding generations, including her own ancestors.

Waibel said she didn’t realize how long it would take to get the project ready for publication, even though most of it was written before she started putting the book together.

“It was more difficult than I thought because there were a lot of frustrations, things I didn’t know how to do on computer,” she said.

She had “professional” help from various friends, including Gail Gregory and Glenda Hopkins from the East Linn Museum, Jim Childers of the Sweet Home Genealogical Society, and Joan Scofield, a retired professional typesetter who helped proofread it.

“I got some professional help and I got a lot of volunteer help,” she said.

She said Childers helped set up the photos for the book and she got a lot of help from Sharon Leader of the Genealogical Society, who “had done a lot of publishing and she showed me how to actually put it together because the book was a lot of pieces.”

Leader’s late husband, Carmen, was one of Waibel’s high school classmates in the class of 1948, she said.

Scofield showed Waibel “a lot of ways to put words together,” Waibel said.

“I’m such a novice. It was nice to have that help.”

Waibel said the books arrived April 3 and they started selling as soon as people found out they had arrived.

“I can’t keep them in stock in the car,” Waibel said. She’d sold more than 100 of the first run of 750, at $15 each, as of Friday, April 12, she said.

Profits from the book will benefit the East Linn Museum, the Genealogical Society and other local causes, she said.

Her first book signing will be on Saturday, April 19, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the East Linn Museum at 746 Long St.

After that, she plans to host a signing at the Foster Lake Mall, 5480 Hwy. 20, on April 23 from 1 to 2 p.m. She is also planning a signing in May at the Genealogical Society, but that date has yet to be announced.

She has other plans for the book as well.

“I’m going to give them out at my 60th class reunion this year as a door prize,” she said.